Bali – April 2013 – Part 2

Goa Gajah Temple / Elephant Cave – Dan’s b-day

The menacing entrance to Goa Gajah looks like a demonic mouth, suggesting that people are entering an underworld as they venture inside through the darkness. The primary figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname “Elephant Cave”. The site is mentioned in a Javanese poem written in 1365.!
It felt so powerful this place.. Full of Mana like Hawaiians would say…

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The Elephant Cave itself is actually quite small. As you enter through  the dark, narrow passage, the cave abruptly ends in an intersection. There is a tiny left and a right passage. Inside the cave there was a lot of incense burning, it was very smoky so I went in and out very quickly. I could see there were 3 altar total and there was places carved and shaped by human legs by years and years of many people meditating.

A few yards of the cave that is in the middle of cave courtyard, there is a place to take Tirta or holy water for the ceremony. The holy pond was originally buried in the ground and successfully found in 1954.

This holy pond is completed by the statues equipped by showers in form of  Angels arranged in a group of three lines with 6 statues. Perhaps at first time there 7 fountain statues, a statue was set in the middle as interrupter but its existence has not been known until now.

We felt called to touch the water and receive its blessings. At first we watched carefully how the Balinese would come to get blessings , then we respectfully went in.

Today, many sites still remain unexplored. Literal piles of relics with unknown origins have been laid out in a surrounding garden.

The leading theory suggests that Goa Gajah was used as a hermitage or sanctuary by Hindu priests. Although accredited as a sacred Hindu site, a number of relics and the close proximity of a Buddhist temple suggest that the site held special significance to early Buddhists in Bali.

There are many signs all around the temple, that Balinese people, believed in Animism before Hinduism or Buddhism came to the island. Carvings thousands of years old giving life to hills, rocks and nature itself. “Animism” is derived from the Latin word “Anima” meaning breath or soul. The belief of animism is probably one of man’s oldest beliefs, with its origin most likely dating to the Paleolithic age. From its earliest beginnings it was a belief that a soul or spirit existed in every object, even if it was inanimate.

We continue our journey into the back of the temple and into the jungle. We run into a small shrine where an old man with no teeth was waiting. He blessed us with smoke and holy water and then asked for donation. Later, we run into another man who asked us for more donations and asked to sign some log to be able to keep going. It was a beautiful place but I was feeling unsure and a little scared. We walked for a good half an hour, then we found a little path that led to the river. I looked at the path, unsure again, it definitely was a “no”… so I backed out. We took another route thinking it would loop…well, we ended up in a neighborhood and we eventually loop but not the way we expected.
We finally found our way back to the entrance of the temple where our scooter was. It was an adventure I will never forget. It was mysterious, scary, beautiful and ancient path.

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It was a full HOT day.
Some great smoothies and a Balinese meal at the famous “Yellow Flower” restaurant was a treat. No MSG, good oils, great spot!

Gunung Kawi Temple

Gunung Kawi is a temple complex centered around royal tombs carved into stone cliffs.
It’s around 1.000 years old, probably built at the end of the 11th century. Gunung Kawi was first discovered by Europeans in 1920, even if the local population had knowledge of it a long time before that.

From the souvenir stalls on the top we walked down a long, steep stairway with 315 steps.! There  were women walking with heavy construction materials in their head. It was surreal.

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The feeling was that of being in Peru or something. Super ancient and gorgeous nature all around.
It is impossible to capture all the surrounding beauty found in this spot on film.

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Tirta Empul Temple – Dan’s b-day

It is Daniel’s Birthday today. We went to Gunung Kawi Temple and then to Tirta Empul Temple. Tirta Empul was my favorite temple in Bali, the temple of purification with holy water. It felt so sacred and mystic. The temple has 3 pools with water fountains constantly flowing and Koi fish swimming on them. The water that comes out of these fountains is considered one of the most sacred waters of all.

The first pool has 11 fountains. The Temple guardian explained these fountains are about the elements within our bodies. Almost at the end of this pool, there is a fountain that is not be touched or bathe in unless for funerals/cremations.

In order to get in these sacred pools you have to wear a sarong and bring an offering. Ayu prepared the offerings for us back at home. One for each fountain.

Balinese people come here for many different special occasions, including birthdays… so today was the perfect day for Dan.

I felt so blessed for the gift of ritual and sacredness that breathe at this temple.

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We had an amazing day at Gunung Kawi & Tirta Empul Temple
Water purification, culture, amazement.

Today was Wayan’s son birthday as well so they had planned a big party for the night
big tent, catered Balinese food, Balinese version of cakes, live music, Balinese blessings… oh My!It was beautiful and hilarious in many ways.
They had the sacred and they also had lots of alcohol and a dancer/singer with dazzling stripers shoes / short dress and sexy moves… I guess all is sacred … it was an experience for sure!

Here is the video of Daniel’s birthday Balinese blessing and birthday song:

They got both birthday boys on stage, sang Happy birthday in english as well as Balinese.
At the end, instead of blowing a candle, the tradition call for knocking down the top of the rice cake and feeding your loved one with the fallen top. This marks the beginning of the party, this gives permission for everybody to start eating.

SAYING  GOOD BYE  TO WAYAN  & FAMILY ON APRIL 15TH
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WHAT’S THIS VEGGIE? Please comment :0)

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At Yoga Barn, best coconut milk coffee with Palm Sugar – and coconut water

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Shadow Puppets

“The Shadow Puppet shows communicates Bali’s history, religious and spiritual teachings, poetry, and philosophy. The characters are demi-gods, demons, magic men, and romantic lovers. There are many different stories past through generations by the puppet theatre ranging from high drama, improvisation, and slapstick comedy.

The night performances of the wayang are for entertainment. A translucent rice paper screen is back-lit by flickering candles or a coconut husk oil lamp.Only one puppeteer, called a dalang, puts on a performance.

The dalang must be a very well educated and talented individual as his responsibility is vast. The rods of at least 20 wayang figures are manipulated as the dalang chants or sings his narration. He is accompanied by an orchestra of 4 metal-keyed instruments that sound like fairies (gamelan orchestra). The daland cues the orchestra with his feet while he improvises a complex network of intrigues from a simple plot. He must be able to produce a different voice for each character as well as to physically endure an all-evening performance. He is a master story-teller, a philosopher, a poet, an actor, and a teacher. It is said that the dalang is the greatest educator of the people.

The wayland serves to communicate the history, ideas, and principles of their culture. It pulls the Balanise together as a community and gives people an opportunity to view themselves “through the mirror of the mystic history.”

I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry.

This was not a “traditional” show.  The puppeteer started speaking in English and the dialogues were about tourists, mostly americans interacting with Balinese people… It was funny but not. I laughed but it seems as if this twisted versions are showing how the culture is beginning to get lost.

See this video:

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